10 Energy Efficient Building Materials

Updated on November 8, 2016

Intro

An energy efficient home is designed to keep out the wind and rain while reducing energy waste. Modern homes are built with energy efficiency in mind and are now constructed from a variety of different materials. They are no longer built using only bricks and mortar. A wide variety of energy efficient building materials are now available for today's home builder. Every homeowner should take advantage of the new eco-friendly technological advances in home building, because they're affordable, more efficient and greener.

1. Recycled Steel

It could take as many as 40 - 50 trees to build an average house. If recycled steel is used it will take just 6 scrap cars to serve the same purpose. Steel beams can be used as a replacement for wooden ones and can be ordered to fit a specific design. Steel is a very durable material and particularly useful in areas where there are earthquakes and high winds.

2.Insulating Concrete Forms

These have been around for more than half a century but are now experiencing a comeback because of their energy saving properties. Concrete is poured between two insulating layers and left in place. It can be used for free-standing walls and building blocks.

3.Plant-based Polyurethane Foam

Everyone has heard about fibreglass insulation, but there is an even better option now. It's totally safe and made from natural products. Plant-based polyurethane foam is usually made from natural materials such as bamboo, hemp and kelp. Used as insulation it offers high resistance to moisture and heat and protects against mold and pests. It insulates better than fibreglass or polystyrene. It's not really a surprise that nature once again has provided us with a better solution to our insulation problems than artificial science.

4. Straw Bales

Yes, I know this seems like a bit of a Medieval home building material but keep reading. you'll be surprised how resilient this material actually is. It's been used for centuries for various purposes (beds, roofing) but nowadays it can help us with its excellent insulation properties. If kept dry they can last for hundreds of years and they bond well to plaster and external render.

5. Cool Roof

Cool roofing technology has been around for over 15 years now. It will improve the heat dissipation and will lower temperatures in your home during summer A LOT. It's also safe for the environment because it lowers heat in the atmosphere. The name is a bid misleading though, it's not that these roofs are cooling your home like an air-conditioner, its their reflectiveness which gives them the name. They reflect the sunlight and thus reducing the heat in your home.

6.Structural Insulated Panels

Manufactured from a layer of foam insulation which is sandwiched between plywood or cement panels. It is fire resistant and suitable for floors, basements, foundations as well as load bearing walls. You can choose from a variety of materials but the principle remains the same. This material will help you reduce your energy bill greatly. You can consult a handyman services company if you want to know more about this.

7.Plastic Composite Lumber

Often manufactured from waste plastic and wood fibre it is more durable and less toxic than conventionally treated wood. It is resistant to mold and rot and more rigid in the cold and pliable in the heat than purely plastic building materials. Also the one in the picture is the anti-slip variety which is suitable for bathrooms and outside decks.

8.Low-E Windows

Low-E windows or also known as "high performance" windows are another great substitute for normal glass which will help you reduce heat during summer and block infrared radiation. They have a clear coating of metal oxide. It also helps keep the heat in during the winter. They can reduce heat flow by up to 50%.

9.Vacuum Insulation Panels

Vacuum insulation panels or VIP (even the name sounds important) are a quick glimpse in the future of home building. Currently only used for commercial refrigeration units they could become available for general home building in the future. They comprise of a textured silver rectangle that encloses a core panel in an airtight envelope. All of this means heat loss will be reduced to a minimum and we'll have much greener homes.



10. Earth

And from the near future let's get way back to ancient history. Earth walls. Yes, they have many advantages over other building materials. Mainly, earth is practically everywhere around us, meaning it's pretty cheap. Walls made from earth provide an excellent thermal mass and it is up there with other renewable sources of building materials.

Conclusion

Of course you don't have to choose all of these materials to build your home, but even if one turns out to be to your liking, you can be sure you have made the right choice. Look at them from all possible angles and create your energy efficient home.

Which energy efficient building material do you like best?

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Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Daniel 

        4 months ago

        This review was very helpful, thank you a lot!

      • profile image

        Ron Brown 

        8 months ago

        I was wondering if white coating to external roofing is an advantage to keeping the dwelling cool, does the same apply to painting external block walls?

      • profile image

        Mckenzie Copeland 

        9 months ago

        i honestly think this is some very informational stuff. i am 9 years old.

      • profile image

        have some candy 

        18 months ago

        thanks helped with school project

      • profile image

        aa 

        24 months ago

        cool stuff

      • profile image

        3 years ago

        this is An AmAzing Article pleAse write more -kisses A

      • profile image

        behroz 

        3 years ago

        informative stuff

      • athomewithSam profile image

        Samantha 

        4 years ago from London

        Hi, Coray!

        Great article. I had no idea that there is such a thing as vacuum insulation panels :)

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